“See the opportunities for adventures, not the constraints that get in the way,” wrote Alastair Humphreys in his widely popular book, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. Published years before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) caused border closures, social distancing, and self-isolation, Humphreys was ahead of his time.
The book suggests that artificially busy lives thwart big adventures before they get started. The solution? Humphreys advises not to make it hard. “Make your adventure so small and easy there’s no excuse,” he writes—fitting advice during a pandemic, with many of us stuck at home and struggling to find adventure.
“Sometimes all you need is to climb a hill, spend time staring at an empty horizon, jump into a cold river or sleep under the stars, or share a whisky at a small country inn to remind yourself what matters most in life,” says Humphreys, a Nat Geo Explorer of the Year who once spent four years biking around the world.
For someone who gained fame by walking across deserts and rowing across oceans to advocate for small, local adventures is surprising, but that’s exactly the point. Challenges might be different today, but the logic holds water. “Waiting until you somehow, suddenly and simultaneously, have both loads of money and plenty of time is daft.”
Humphreys suggests that you use the time you already have, like commuting hours, between workdays, and weekends, to adventure. He suggests exploring areas near your home, using gear already in your garage, like an ordinary bike, pack, camp stove and sleeping bag. This is sage advice for today, too.
“Adventure is a loose word that means different things to different people,” he writes. “It is a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. Adventure is about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity. Adventure can be found everywhere and it is up to us to seek it out.”
In this spirit, here are 16 suggestions for small and local adventures fit for today. Not all will be possible in your location, due to differences in regulations and safety measures. Some will fit better than others, but the point, echoing Humphreys, is to just get started.
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